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The power of song

Distinguished choirs from around the world will share in the “Power of Song” at Newfoundland and Labrador’s internationally renowned choral event, Festival 500: Sharing the Voices.

An integral component of Festival 500 is its academic symposium, the Phenomenon of Singing. The symposium, co-sponsored by Memorial University, will take place July 2-5. It will feature more than 75 presentations from more than 10 different countries.

In 2009, Festival 500 celebrates the “Power of Song” as an agent or catalyst towards global harmony. The power of song refers to the power to heal, to unite, to excite, to remove fear, and to calm the soul.

Since its inception in 1997, the festival has expanded beyond St. John’s to include regional festivals in Labrador and in Western Newfoundland. The Labrador Region Festival 500 was held Feb. 26-28 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Corner Brook hosted its Western Region Festival from April 23-26.

This year Festival 500 will also feature two rural concerts – Up the Shore and Around the Bay – in Ferryland and Brigus on July 4.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is contributing $300,000 to Festival 500. The provincial government is contributing $200,000 and the City of St. John’s is continuing its support of Festival 500 with $200,000.

In addition to promoting musical development and appreciation among the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Festival 500 has a significant economic impact on the cultural tourism industry. It’s estimated that the 2007 festival increased provincial gross domestic product by approximately $1.4 million.

Festival 500 attracts choristers from around the world and enhances the province’s overall attractiveness as a tourism destination. Festival 500 was awarded the 2009 Cultural Tourism Award in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage and Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.